October 2, 2019
One year since the extrajudicial execution of Jamal Khashoggi, Saudi citizens are honouring Khashoggi’s legacy by pursuing the fight for their inalienable right to freely express themselves, despite the authorities’ continuing crackdown and the absence of any meaningful signal to hold accountable those responsible for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing, Amnesty International said today.
“Any talk of assuming responsibility for Jamal Khashoggi’s killing is meaningless if not met with the immediate and unconditional release of dozens of individuals who continue to languish in prison, and who continue to be at risk of torture and other ill-treatment, solely for having expressed their opinion in a peaceful manner,” said Lynn Maalouf, Middle East Research Director at Amnesty International.
To date, Amnesty International has documented the cases of at least 30 prisoners of conscience who are behind bars serving prison sentences of between five and 30 years solely for peacefully exercising their rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly. Amongst those currently detained are Mohammad al-Qahtani, a founding member of the Saudi Civil and Political Rights Association who called for the protection and promotion of human rights and provided legal support to families of detainees, and Waleed Abu al-Khair, a lawyer who defended human rights defenders before his imprisonment. Mohammad al-Qahtani and Waleed Abu al-Khair were tried and sentenced before the counter-terror court to 10 and 15 years in prison, respectively, for their peaceful human rights work.
Marking the first anniversary since Jamal Khashoggi’s extrajudicial execution, Saudi Arabian activists abroad – supported by Amnesty International – are launching a podcast series called “The Great Saudi Arabia”, focusing on different human rights issues affecting the country. The first series focuses on the story of Jamal Khashoggi. At the heart of this initiative is the activists’ desire to demonstrate to everyone in Saudi Arabia and the world at large that extreme measures of repression will not stop them from expressing their views, tell their own stories and continue their fight for the release of other human rights defenders who are paying a hefty price for speaking out.